Since Barack Obama was elected president, the opportunity to seize national security credibility from Republicans for the long term has been there for the taking, and awaiting only a few things. ?Capture or death of Osama Bin Laden is the big prize, of course. ?But the inevitable attempted terrorist attack on Barack Obama’s watch, and the Republican response to it, offers the same opportunity.
The Christmas Day attack has given Barack the best of all worlds. ?Thank God, the attack failed, hilariously. ?Just as hilarious has been the utterly predictable Republican attack in response, whose main effect is to place a hard microscope on the Bush administration’s failings under similar circumstances. ?That hard look, to date, has never survived a media environment skewed toward Republican war mongering. ?That environment is gone, but Republicans attack as if it were still there. ?Republicans imagine that Americans like partisan sniping during, before, and after a national security crisis. ?That is a grave miscalculation. ?Thank you, GOP.
Under this new microscope, the specifics of this attack point to a long term failure of the Bush administration to button down even the most minimal level of governmental coordination demanded by 9/11, the 9/11 commission report, and much else. ? Such a systemic level of miscommunication, when warning flags are evident, is the exact same failure that led to 9/11. ?There is almost no substantive difference.
Republicans will try to blame the Obama White House, but what will follow is deep congressional investigation into the systems that the Bush administration left behind, systems that should certainly have been strong enough to prevent this attack no matter who was president. ?Those investigations will be done by a Congress that is no longer oriented toward long term military commitment in foreign lands, but oriented instead toward making sure this failure never happens again.
In other words, governing is about to ensue.
The Republican Congress under George W. Bush was simply not interested in governing, on any issue, particularly the weeds of internal US security. ?They were interested in neo-conservativism, proving their ideology even as it failed spectacularly before their eyes, cementing their majority through fear, and endless partisanship designed to perpetuate a perception within the electorate that Democrats can’t protect the country. That same perception is now about to haunt Republicans, particularly if (big if) Democrats in Congress take the lessons to heart which the Republican Congress refused to even acknowledge.
I’m quite certain this is an opportunity Barack Obama will take full advantage of.